Android Go is Google's stripped-down OS for cheap phones

Adjust Comment Print

On Wednesday morning in Mountain View, California, Google has taken the stage for its annual I/O developers conference.

Google Assistant is more than just a smart voice assistant.

The company also released a host of new features for Google Home, a speaker released a year ago. Google Lens is a new Google product that works through a smartphone's camera pretty much the way Samsung's digital assistant, the non-starter Bixby, does. Point the camera at a flower and the Assistant will identify it for you.

Google believes Android device makers will come out with new models featuring special chips called digital signal processors that will support methods for deep learning, a type of AI that Google and other technology companies have been using inside their apps in the past few years.

Advanced "Lens" features are being added first to the Google Photo application, which is available free.

Pichai has made AI the foundation of his strategy since becoming Google's CEO in late 2015, emphasizing that technology is rapidly evolving from a "mobile-first" world, where smartphones steer the services that companies are building, to an "AI-first" world, where the computers supplement the users' brains.

Police officer overdoses after brushing fentanyl powder off his uniform
Cortez Collins (left) and Justin Buckle were pulled over by OH police officer Chris Green of the East Liverpool Police Department. Here's a frightening reminder of the dangers of fentanyl, a powerful opioid that can be lethal even in tiny amounts.

The goal of Android Go is to get computing into the hands of more people by creating a great smartphone experience on all Android devices with 1GB or less of memory. Beyond the OS, apps are also getting smarter.

Google also announced that they are bringing Google Assistant to iphones to provide an alternative to Siri. Google will also let you share whole photo libraries with others. So instead of saying something like "play music" and then having to select an app, launch that app, and then navigate within that app, users will stay within the Google Assistant framework and say something like "OK Google, talk to Spotify". That means that users not only allow Google to process their pictures, but also tell the company who their closest confidantes are.

Google Assistant already runs on over 100 million devices.

Though not a competitor, Google's slimmed-down phone operating system aimed at cheap Android phones is reminiscent of Facebook's own "skinny" version, called Facebook Lite.

Android and Google Play product management Vice President Sameer Samat announced a stripped-down version of Android called Android Go, which is designed for entry-level phones used by people on pre-paid plans that limit the amount of data they can use each month.